Stress has slowly but surely become a universal problem that everyone deals with at some level of intensity. With the fast-changing work environment, a lot of people experience stress regularly, and with time, it piles up and leads to burnout.
It has, at this point become unanimous with stress and a lot of people assume that stress is essentially a part of their work lives.
Stress over a long duration of time can also lead to high turnover rates!
As a team leader, it then becomes extremely crucial to understand, evaluate, and create strategies regularly to minimize the stress experienced by the team and the individuals within it.
The very first step on the journey to stress management is Awareness.
Here are the 4 Steps to Nurture Team Well-Being and Stress Management
1. Understanding the Triangle of Awareness
2. Recognizing the Stress Triggers
3. Recognizing the Signs of a Stressed-Out Team
4. Finding Tools that Support the Team with Stress Relief
1. Understanding the Triangle of Awareness as a Stress Management Tool
This is a tool that can help us in getting started on the stress management journey. The tool is divided into 3 zones, just like a triangle -
These 3 areas are going to help you recognize and manage stress quickly to prevent burnout from occurring. The more awareness you have over these 3 areas, the faster the response time.
But how do we translate this into a team setting? Let’s break this down!
2. Recognizing the Triggers that Lead to Stress Within the Team
To start the stress management journey, you need to have an awareness of what is leading people to experience stress within your team. What are the areas of friction? What usually leads people to experience stress? What are the patterns?
To understand this better and to get a response that is unbiased and not shared from a space of fear of being rejected and ridiculed, you can create a survey and get anonymous responses to it.
After you receive the responses, you can analyze them objectively and look for common pitfalls or reasons why your team is experiencing stress.
Make a note of all of the responses and start with the biggest stressors. Once these are out of the way, you can start exploring policies for the other stressors.
The key thing to remember is to look at this objectively and from an outside perspective. The responses are not a hit on you or your leadership, but will rather be a tool to strengthen the team and your role in their work life.
3. Recognizing the Signs of Stress Within the Team
Another extremely important thing to note in the survey is exploring what are the signs that your team is experiencing stress.
This is an opportunity for people to bring their attention inward and look at what they usually do when experiencing stress.
This can focus on emotional (irritation, anger, sadness, exhaustion, fear, uneasiness) behavioral (avoidance, lack of focus, forgetfulness, grinding teeth), and physiological signs (headaches, stomach issues, shortness of breath).
You can take this to the next level by inviting them to share how they usually behave within the team setting when stressed. Some of the signs can look like - isolation, irritation, communication challenges, etc.
Once again, observing the patterns will help you recognize when one of your team members is stressed and give them the appropriate support as soon as they can!
4. Finding Tools that Support the Team's Well-Being with Stress Management Techniques
There are two ways to find tools that support your team with stress relief -
a. Through an anonymous survey - this allows your team to explore and share their ideas without fear of rebuttal.
b. Through a collaborative meeting - where team members can come together to explore solutions and strategies that support them.
While there are many ways to find tools and strategies that can support your team, these two can be extremely beneficial as they involve collaboration and exploration with your team.
It also helps as oftentimes we can come in from a space of finding out solutions that WE think might be amazing, but might not be the best fit for the team.
Inviting them to share solutions within a collaborative space can help override this obstacle, and create a solution that aligns with the team.
Additional Things to Keep in Mind
1. Do the Triangle of Awareness exercise regularly to ensure that as a team leader, you are up to date on your team’s well-being.
2. Invite the team to also plan out potential triggers to look out for in upcoming projects based on past experiences.
Proactively plan for potential stress triggers in upcoming projects based on past experiences. This anticipatory approach allows for the implementation of preventive measures.
Encourage team members to share insights from past projects, fostering a culture of continuous improvement and knowledge-sharing.
Pro Tip: Create a collaborative project planning session where team members collectively brainstorm potential stressors and develop strategies to mitigate them.
3. Setting up policies such as regular breaks and team building activities and retreats.
Encourage a work culture that prioritizes breaks and team-building activities. These moments of respite not only provide an opportunity for relaxation but also strengthen team bonds.
Consider implementing a flexible break schedule that accommodates individual preferences, promoting a personalized approach to well-being.
Pro Tip: Introduce "well-being days" focusing solely on relaxation and team-building, fostering a positive and rejuvenating atmosphere.
4. Inviting external sources such as coaches and mentors to guide the team from a non-biased mind space!
Recognize the value of external sources such as coaches and mentors in providing unbiased guidance. Consider establishing partnerships with external well-being experts who can conduct regular check-ins and workshops.
This external perspective not only brings a fresh outlook but also ensures that the well-being initiatives align with industry best practices.
5. Hosting regular workshops and webinars to support teams on things that usually stress them out.
Expand on the idea of hosting regular workshops and webinars by emphasizing the importance of ongoing education. These sessions can delve into specific stressors common in the industry or team, providing actionable insights and coping mechanisms.
Encourage team members to actively participate in these sessions, fostering a culture of continuous learning.
Pro Tip 1: Establish a "Well-being Wednesday" series where every Wednesday is dedicated to team well-being, alternating between workshops and webinars.
Pro Tip 2: Host quarterly webinars featuring guest speakers who specialize in stress management and team well-being.
This article stresses undertaking a collaborative approach to nurturing team wellbeing and stress management. It focuses on using the Triangle of Awareness tool to identify what usually triggers the team, what signs the team usually showcases when stressed, and what usually helps them relieve stress.
It also talks about setting up potential policies to support the team at large and over a longer duration of time. Ultimately, it depends on both the leader to recognize the importance of such measures and the employee to understand the need to work on reducing their stress levels to make headway.
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Thank you and take care!
Madhurima Sappatti is a Global Stress Management Facilitator who loves to support multi-passionate and ambitious dreamers manage their stress and prevent burnout so that they can follow their dreams without their own selves holding them back.
She is on a mission to make Stress Management Fun so that people can regularly practice stress management techniques that are made for them!
Edits by Aswin Raghav.